Deciding on a future path

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I RECEIVED an email from a young woman in her early twenties who was going through a lot of stress because she cannot decide what she wants to do with her life. She says she feels years behind her peers and co-workers and is also being pressured by her parents to choose an appropriate path. Honey, I’m here to tell you that you are definitely not alone; that millions of people around the world are unsure of what they want to specialise in and even worse, if they do, they are not often able to pursue it.

This question, fuelled with pressure can arise when you are 18 or 80 and it’s okay to take some time (as much as you need) to decide what you’re going to spend the rest of your life doing; it’s a massive commitment and therefore requires lots of thought. I definitely can’t and won’t tell anyone what to decide on their future but I can make suggestions on how to get there.

Making a list is always a good place to start. A list of all the things you can imagine doing with your life. This can be absolutely anything, although sticking to what truly interests you makes it easier. Deeply explore what you desire most. Ask yourself some important questions, questions that I and millions before me had to consider. What are you most passionate about? What fulfils you? What are your goals? Who do you admire most?
Deeply examining who you are, your standards, values and skills can make this decision a whole lot easier. There’s an effective technique for answering these questions called a personal manifesto. This is known to work as a statement of morals, a source of motivation and a call to action. You will address questions such as what do I stand for? What means the most to me? Do I open myself to new and exciting opportunities? How do I define myself? What does ‘living my best life’ mean to me? Am I fully and healthily capable of dealing with disappointments? Do I typically make choices based on sound reasoning? Do I care about personal improvements? Am I willing to expand my comfort zone? While they may seem off topic, the answer to these and similar questions go a long way in determining what path is right for you.

Volunteer or shadow someone in the field or fields that interests you. Before I knew I wanted to be a psychologist, I actually wanted to be a lawyer. Luckily I was able to do a nine-month internship at a prominent law office and I learnt that it wasn’t for me. This allowed me the early opportunity to avoid being unhappy in a field that I didn’t have enough experience in to know I wouldn’t like it. I know so many people who went off to study a particular field very early in life and they no longer practice in that field. This happens when you have no direct experience in the field or you are pressured to make a decision before you truly know what you were meant to do. To avoid this, I strongly suggest that everyone does this even if part-time for a short time. Volunteering in any position you are interested in is a fantastic way to try out many different careers without actually committing to them. If you are unable to do this, simply talk to people within your desired field. People who are living your dream can provide tons of information and inspiration.

Pay attention to what classes or subjects you are or were most interested in high school or through any courses that you did. If you haven’t done any formal studying yet, do you have a passion? Are there any activities that you’ve done which challenged you or brought you joy?

You can also work backwards. Many don’t know what they want to do but they are definitely certain of what they do not want to do. Make a list of these things too. Why do you not want to pursue this path? Is it the hours? Money? Type of people? Knowing this clearly could also help you determine what you may actually be looking for. Many people ask themselves what kind of job they want or what kind of work they want. They tirelessly study the position and often end up dissatisfied because they got the job they wanted, but not the life they desired. You can decide on the kind of life you want and make a career decision from there. How much free time do you want? Do you have an important hobby that you would like to simultaneously pursue? What kind of people do you want to spend time with? Do you want to do some travelling? These are also fundamental questions when it comes to choosing a path in life. Take some time to decide not just the kind of job you desire, but the kind of life.

Please remember that you can choose more than one area. Many people live in a combination world of part-time if that’s what your heart desires. Remember that feeling stuck in a current position is a mindset, you can always change course if you are not doing what’s right for you.

If you’re unsure at the moment, please do not worry. Our world is made up of boundless possibilities and the right decision will be made if your desires, morals and skills are taken into consideration.

Thanking you for reading. Please keep sending any topics you’d like to talk about to caitlinvieira@gmail.com

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